Fan Theory: Floaters are Coral

Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
As the title suggests, this theory will be about how Floaters (the pink and blue floating things) may be a species of coral. Once again, this is not in any way what I consider to be actual lore/canon information. This is just a thought that I had and I think that its worth sharing. So please enjoy!

My theory states that Floaters are a unique species of coral that grow blue transparent shells instead of hard sandstone shells that our Earth corals do. Yes, I do know that there are some squishy corals on Earth but for the most part its hard corals. So, the inner pink part of the coral is the original egg that was ejected from another floater and is where eggs are produced. It's the main organism of the alien coral. The outer blue transparent part of the Floater is where food is caught, buoyant gases are created and it acts as a shield for the inner organism. Its made of both bacteria/proteins/cells from the inner organism and organisms from external sources. The Floating capability is so that the egg can easily travel and find a suitable place to form and a viable food source.

LIFE CYCLE
1. A Floater egg is ejected from a formed Floater coral. It forms inside the inner organism and comes out of the blue transparent organism taking some of it with the egg so it can float, have protection from possible threats and so it can collect food. Taking some of the blue organism with the egg also gives it a head start on creating its own.

2.
The Floater egg drifts in the currents of the water until it attaches to a stable surface or to a creature which it kills and consumes quickly. After killing a creature it de-attaches and continues the search for a suitable surface so it can grow.

3.
Once the Floater egg finds and attaches to a stable and suitable surface (e.g. rock) it creates a buoyant gas that makes the object float if it is loose or, if there are enough floaters, makes it loose so it can float. It then proceeds to start growing a blue membrane.

4. Once the Floater has created its own blue membrane it starts growing membrane tentacles to make it easier to catch food.

5. Once that is complete, it begins to grow larger to a suitable size to fit he object that it is hanging onto and to fit the number of other Floaters attached to the same objects. Coral on Earth attack each other if they get to close but Floaters live in harmony with the other Floater colonies.

6. After the Floater has reached a suitable size, it begins creating eggs so it can recreate the entire life-cycle .

7. The Floater eggs are released in a massive wave with all of the other eggs. This only happens every few years and the whole cycle takes about 3 to complete up to stage 6 and so a generation of Floaters have already grown by the time that the mass egg laying event happens. Newly formed Floaters do not partake in the mass laying event because eggs take a while to form.

NOTES: Floater eggs can merge together to form larger colonies and that is what generally happens. Multiple eggs merge together and form a colony together.
The Floater birth-death ratio is more leaning towards the death. Floaters have many abundant predators but all of them are microscopic organisms or bacteria.
Single Floater eggs that do not merge are at a higher risk of dying from attacks.
Large Floaters aren't just one Floater, they are many Floaters merged together that grew up together (Floater eggs that didn't merge as eggs or as very young colonies cannot merge later in life.


I hope you at least enjoyed my 2nd theory and if you did please remember to put an awesome or an agree at the top. If you have any inquiries or questions about this than please post them in the comments below! Also, please remember that this is a theory/thought experiment and is in no way what I actually think about Floaters and should not be considered actual information. Also, I am not a biologist.
#SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
RalijTenebrousNovaDarwin-EvolutionCaptainFearlessShuttleBugscifiwriterguy0x6A7232TheLordEternal

Comments

  • Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
    So, was this good enough for you @CaptainFearless ?
    #SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
    Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
    CaptainFearless
  • Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
    I remember giving an interpretation of the life cycle of floaters too, but only the giant ones in the underwater islands, and I was wondering how the normal sized floaters would have one too. This one makes sense to me, it seems realistic enough. Nice!

    *whispers*Oh thank god, someone liked it!
    Thanks! I got some of my info from a Netflix documentary called The Grand Reef and then used what the game tells us about them/imagination to make the Theory. I'm glad you enjoyed my theory and I remember your interpretation of Floater lifecycle too, it was really good from what I remember.
    #SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
    Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
  • SnailsAttackSnailsAttack Members Join Date: 2017-02-09 Member: 227749Posts: 521 Advanced user
    edited April 2017
    This is an interesting theory. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.
    CaptainFearlesswowwink
  • CaptainFearlessCaptainFearless CO, USMembers Join Date: 2016-12-14 Member: 224941Posts: 366 Advanced user
    Yeah it is pretty good. :)
    Nyeh heh heh
    Beanboy Delivery
    You may know me as Tipoff Giggots
  • ShuttleBugShuttleBug USAMembers Join Date: 2017-03-15 Member: 228943Posts: 567 Advanced user
    Nice :]
    We secure. We contain. We protect.
    — The Administrator
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user
    It's an interesting hypothesis, and one that has a lot of merit. (And also shows a lot of good reasoning!) In fact, I see only one problem and one unaddressed question - which isn't your fault at all. :)

    Okay, so "Coral" is questionable. While budding as a reproductive method certainly matches coral, the structure just doesn't quite match up. Floaters are symbiotes with, by all appearances, a completely soft body. (Granted, the soft corals, like Nephtheidae, look similar, their structure is entirely different.) And symbiosis occurs in corals, too, sure: Zooxanthellae form endosymbiont interactions with certain corals, so that's kosher. But floaters also have distinct jaws, something which no coral has, along with macrodifferentiated tissues. But, if you hop sideways on the taxonomic tree a bit to, say, family Hydridae (containing hydras), I think that resolves the issue.

    As for the rest (which, I will stress again, isn't a result of this hypothesis!) - Assuming our PDA is correct, floaters float because of a buildup of helium in the outer membrane. Given that seawater on Earth at least is very helium-poor (0.0000072 ppm), that represents a lot of energy expenditure to harvest the helium, energy which could be devoted to cellular growth or reproduction, along with a sophisticated biological gas-harvesting mechanism. Nature hates wasting energy; organisms that do not effectively and efficiently use energy are usually out-competed by those that do and subsequently disappear. So, the question becomes "why?" That helium represents tremendous effort, one which has to deliver some kind of substantial biological advantage. What is that advantage? (By comparison, it's like a human having the ability to extract ammonia from Earth's atmosphere - you'd need a pretty compelling reason, one which can't be answered more efficiently.)

    Frankly, that part of a floater's physiology is one of the biggest chunks of "because SPACE MAGIC!" I've seen in Subnautica.

    But, @Nautical_Nick, your hypothesis is really quite nice, and a fairly elegant answer to the question! :)
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
    ShuttleBug
  • DaveyNYDaveyNY Schenectady, NYMembers Join Date: 2016-08-30 Member: 221903Posts: 1,337 Advanced user
    Maybe they attach to the larger rocks so often because the rocks contain just enough Helium to sustain them?
    B)
  • RalijRalij USMembers Join Date: 2016-05-20 Member: 217092Posts: 602 Advanced user
    Maybe the point isn't to extract helium, but helium is produced as a byproduct of some other function?
  • RalijRalij USMembers Join Date: 2016-05-20 Member: 217092Posts: 602 Advanced user
    You definitely get a medal! Cristobalite seems to be fairly common in volcanic rock, so the geysers in the shallows provide a steady source of the material for long term habitation of the area.
  • Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
    Ralij wrote: »
    Maybe the point isn't to extract helium, but helium is produced as a byproduct of some other function?

    A reasonable conclusion, @Ralij. :) It's difficult to justify, though. Helium's a noble gas, and as such doesn't like associating with other elements. In fact, for a very long time, chemists were certain helium didn't have any compounds since it's so nonreactive. It's been a while, but I do remember the list of helium compounds being a dang short one, and most of them are pretty funky, like Ice-II and ultra-high-pressure clathrates. Really the only reasonably common helium compound...oh, holy Peepers...

    Cristobalite.

    Okay, sorry, I just remembered this and we're going to take kind of a left turn, but hang on with me for a second, and I think I can reasonably demonstrate that both @Ralij and @Nautical_Nick are right. And @DaveyNY, which I think should earn me some kind of medal. ;)

    We're already pretty sure 4546B is heavy on silicon and silicon compounds like silicon dioxide - aka quartz. We can see the stuff everywhere. So we can assume SiO2 is relatively common. Cristobalite is a wonky form of SiO2, specifically SiO2He. It's not stable, but can be produced under high pressure (and I mean high, like multi-gigapascal high). Pressures found in geological processes all the time.

    Now, floaters don't attach to just any rock. If they did, we'd see them stuck to cliffs and outcrops all over the place. No, they stick to their little floater boulders.

    So let's assume for a minute that the boulders floaters are attracted to contain high levels of cristobalite He-II. They use the silicon dioxide for some metabolic process (maybe building and rebuilding jaw structures) and the helium, broken free from the SiO2, collects in the floater's tissues. It's a waste product, sure, but it creates a key difference. These floaters had an evolutionary advantage over non-cristobalite floaters which, attaching anywhere and generally being immobile, became easy prey for predators. But since floater boulders move easily, it made it very difficult for predators to attack floaters on their rocks. Thus, cristobalite floaters had better survival rates - and thus reproductive rates - than non-cristobalite floaters, which ultimately went extinct. Moreover, extracting the helium is practically energy-neutral; the helium doesn't want to be stuck onto a silicon dioxide molecule, so popping it off takes very little energy - way less than trying to filter it out of the seawater.

    And bam, you have a creature that, against all probability, actually thrives because of a weird macronutrient, found in a specific type of rock, and which produces a useful waste product. :)

    Can I update the Theory to suit this new information? And thanks for telling me all of this!
    #SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
    Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
  • ShuttleBugShuttleBug USAMembers Join Date: 2017-03-15 Member: 228943Posts: 567 Advanced user
    The PDA does say the floater is an "Evolutionary Anomaly" so it's supposed to be bizarre :)
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    — The Administrator
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user
    Ralij wrote: »
    Maybe the point isn't to extract helium, but helium is produced as a byproduct of some other function?

    A reasonable conclusion, @Ralij. :) It's difficult to justify, though. Helium's a noble gas, and as such doesn't like associating with other elements. In fact, for a very long time, chemists were certain helium didn't have any compounds since it's so nonreactive. It's been a while, but I do remember the list of helium compounds being a dang short one, and most of them are pretty funky, like Ice-II and ultra-high-pressure clathrates. Really the only reasonably common helium compound...oh, holy Peepers...

    Cristobalite.

    Okay, sorry, I just remembered this and we're going to take kind of a left turn, but hang on with me for a second, and I think I can reasonably demonstrate that both @Ralij and @Nautical_Nick are right. And @DaveyNY, which I think should earn me some kind of medal. ;)

    We're already pretty sure 4546B is heavy on silicon and silicon compounds like silicon dioxide - aka quartz. We can see the stuff everywhere. So we can assume SiO2 is relatively common. Cristobalite is a wonky form of SiO2, specifically SiO2He. It's not stable, but can be produced under high pressure (and I mean high, like multi-gigapascal high). Pressures found in geological processes all the time.

    Now, floaters don't attach to just any rock. If they did, we'd see them stuck to cliffs and outcrops all over the place. No, they stick to their little floater boulders.

    So let's assume for a minute that the boulders floaters are attracted to contain high levels of cristobalite He-II. They use the silicon dioxide for some metabolic process (maybe building and rebuilding jaw structures) and the helium, broken free from the SiO2, collects in the floater's tissues. It's a waste product, sure, but it creates a key difference. These floaters had an evolutionary advantage over non-cristobalite floaters which, attaching anywhere and generally being immobile, became easy prey for predators. But since floater boulders move easily, it made it very difficult for predators to attack floaters on their rocks. Thus, cristobalite floaters had better survival rates - and thus reproductive rates - than non-cristobalite floaters, which ultimately went extinct. Moreover, extracting the helium is practically energy-neutral; the helium doesn't want to be stuck onto a silicon dioxide molecule, so popping it off takes very little energy - way less than trying to filter it out of the seawater.

    And bam, you have a creature that, against all probability, actually thrives because of a weird macronutrient, found in a specific type of rock, and which produces a useful waste product. :)

    Can I update the Theory to suit this new information? And thanks for telling me all of this!

    Of course! Go for it! :)
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
  • SnailsAttackSnailsAttack Members Join Date: 2017-02-09 Member: 227749Posts: 521 Advanced user
    This is an interesting suggestion. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.
  • ShuttleBugShuttleBug USAMembers Join Date: 2017-03-15 Member: 228943Posts: 567 Advanced user
    This is an interesting suggestion. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.

    I think single celled organisms would be a lot smaller
    We secure. We contain. We protect.
    — The Administrator
    CaptainFearless
  • Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
    Ralij wrote: »
    Maybe the point isn't to extract helium, but helium is produced as a byproduct of some other function?

    A reasonable conclusion, @Ralij. :) It's difficult to justify, though. Helium's a noble gas, and as such doesn't like associating with other elements. In fact, for a very long time, chemists were certain helium didn't have any compounds since it's so nonreactive. It's been a while, but I do remember the list of helium compounds being a dang short one, and most of them are pretty funky, like Ice-II and ultra-high-pressure clathrates. Really the only reasonably common helium compound...oh, holy Peepers...

    Cristobalite.

    Okay, sorry, I just remembered this and we're going to take kind of a left turn, but hang on with me for a second, and I think I can reasonably demonstrate that both @Ralij and @Nautical_Nick are right. And @DaveyNY, which I think should earn me some kind of medal. ;)

    We're already pretty sure 4546B is heavy on silicon and silicon compounds like silicon dioxide - aka quartz. We can see the stuff everywhere. So we can assume SiO2 is relatively common. Cristobalite is a wonky form of SiO2, specifically SiO2He. It's not stable, but can be produced under high pressure (and I mean high, like multi-gigapascal high). Pressures found in geological processes all the time.

    Now, floaters don't attach to just any rock. If they did, we'd see them stuck to cliffs and outcrops all over the place. No, they stick to their little floater boulders.

    So let's assume for a minute that the boulders floaters are attracted to contain high levels of cristobalite He-II. They use the silicon dioxide for some metabolic process (maybe building and rebuilding jaw structures) and the helium, broken free from the SiO2, collects in the floater's tissues. It's a waste product, sure, but it creates a key difference. These floaters had an evolutionary advantage over non-cristobalite floaters which, attaching anywhere and generally being immobile, became easy prey for predators. But since floater boulders move easily, it made it very difficult for predators to attack floaters on their rocks. Thus, cristobalite floaters had better survival rates - and thus reproductive rates - than non-cristobalite floaters, which ultimately went extinct. Moreover, extracting the helium is practically energy-neutral; the helium doesn't want to be stuck onto a silicon dioxide molecule, so popping it off takes very little energy - way less than trying to filter it out of the seawater.

    And bam, you have a creature that, against all probability, actually thrives because of a weird macronutrient, found in a specific type of rock, and which produces a useful waste product. :)

    Can I update the Theory to suit this new information? And thanks for telling me all of this!

    Of course! Go for it! :)

    THANKS!
    #SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
    Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user
    edited April 2017
    ShuttleBug wrote: »
    This is an interesting suggestion. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.

    I think single celled organisms would be a lot smaller

    Sorry, @SnailsAttack, but @CaptainFearless is completely right. You couldn't have a single-celled organism that size. Biology doesn't just "scale up," so a single cell the size of a soccer ball, like an ant the size of a Buick in Fallout, just can't happen. Different reasons for why, but equally impossible.

    For our conversation here, the limit on a single-celled organism is dictated by diffusion. A single-celled organism (hereinafter SCO because I'm lazy) requires inputs and produces wastes throughout its structure - meaning that it needs oxygen, water, and "food" from edge to center, and that wastes will be generated all throughout and must be removed. Sophisticated transport mechanisms like a respiratory system to effectively move gases into the organism's interior are multicellular, meaning the SCO has to be able to get oxygen (among other things) to its center purely by diffusion, not active transportation or assisted distribution. There comes a point of volume where it no longer works; you have points of the SCO so far away from the surface where gas exchange takes place that no oxygen (or whatever) makes it that far in - a dead space, essentially. The inverse goes for waste products; any wastes need to be passively discarded, and in an SCO that's too "big," waste products build up in the middle and poison it.

    There are ways around that, of course - an SCO that is thin but wide, spreading the volume out, would overcome the diffusion problem, but it becomes so inefficient that it's wasting energy growing in size which doesn't help it. To get that big, it's exploded its gas and fuel requirements, meaning that now it needs even more fuel despite making itself less mobile - and more attractive to predation. It's also more fragile now, too - lots of bad things against no real advantage. That's a quick way to get kicked out of the 'ol Tree of Life. ;)
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
    CaptainFearlessShuttleBug
  • Nautical_NickNautical_Nick AustraliaMembers Join Date: 2016-06-12 Member: 218444Posts: 804 Advanced user
    edited April 2017
    ShuttleBug wrote: »
    This is an interesting suggestion. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.

    I think single celled organisms would be a lot smaller

    Sorry, @SnailsAttack, but @CaptainFearless is completely right. You couldn't have a single-celled organism that size. Biology doesn't just "scale up," so a single cell the size of a soccer ball, like an ant the size of a Buick in Fallout, just can't happen. Different reasons for why, but equally impossible.

    For our conversation here, the limit on a single-celled organism is dictated by diffusion. A single-celled organism (hereinafter SCO because I'm lazy) requires inputs and produces wastes throughout its structure - meaning that it needs oxygen, water, and "food" from edge to center, and that wastes will be generated all throughout and must be removed. Sophisticated transport mechanisms like a respiratory system to effectively move gases into the organism's interior are multicellular, meaning the SCO has to be able to get oxygen (among other things) to its center purely by diffusion, not active transportation or assisted distribution. There comes a point of volume where it no longer works; you have points of the SCO so far away from the surface where gas exchange takes place that no oxygen (or whatever) makes it that far in - a dead space, essentially. The inverse goes for waste products; any wastes need to be passively discarded, and in an SCO that's too "big," waste products build up in the middle and poison it.

    There are ways around that, of course - an SCO that is thin but wide, spreading the volume out, would overcome the diffusion problem, but it becomes so inefficient that it's wasting energy growing in size which doesn't help it. To get that big, it's exploded its gas and fuel requirements, meaning that now it needs even more fuel despite making itself less mobile - and more attractive to predation. It's also more fragile now, too - lots of bad things against no real advantage. That's a quick way to get kicked out of the 'ol Tree of Life. ;)

    Can I just say how impressed I am with your knowledge about life. You should be UWE's lifeform researcher, making sure that its all possible in our reality.

    EDIT: Just got 100 awesomes!
    #SAVETHEROCKPUNCHER
    Theorist, 2nd in Command of the PH/SP Warper Forces, Gamer!
    scifiwriterguyCaptainFearless
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user

    Can I just say how impressed I am with your knowledge about life. You should be UWE's lifeform researcher, making sure that its all possible in our reality.

    EDIT: Just got 100 awesomes!

    Thanks! Honestly, it's just years (and years) of experience, training, and research talking. Boring for party talk, but if you bring up science, oh, it's time to bust out the geek card. ;)

    I'd be up for that job. :) In the meantime, I still have plenty of fun with conversations like these.
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
    ShuttleBug
  • CaptainFearlessCaptainFearless CO, USMembers Join Date: 2016-12-14 Member: 224941Posts: 366 Advanced user
    Yeah @Nautical_Nick , @scifiwriterguy is insane! Ask any question about anything, you get an amazing essay as an answer!
    Nyeh heh heh
    Beanboy Delivery
    You may know me as Tipoff Giggots
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user
    Yeah @Nautical_Nick , @scifiwriterguy is insane! Ask any question about anything, you get an amazing essay as an answer!

    Not sure if that's the compliment I want to believe it is... :neutral:
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
  • RalijRalij USMembers Join Date: 2016-05-20 Member: 217092Posts: 602 Advanced user
    That's a compliment if I ever heard one.
  • SnailsAttackSnailsAttack Members Join Date: 2017-02-09 Member: 227749Posts: 521 Advanced user
    edited April 2017
    ShuttleBug wrote: »
    This is an interesting suggestion. I always thought of floaters as jellyfish or single-celled organisms.

    I think single celled organisms would be a lot smaller

    Sorry, @SnailsAttack, but @CaptainFearless is completely right. You couldn't have a single-celled organism that size. Biology doesn't just "scale up," so a single cell the size of a soccer ball, like an ant the size of a Buick in Fallout, just can't happen. Different reasons for why, but equally impossible.

    For our conversation here, the limit on a single-celled organism is dictated by diffusion. A single-celled organism (hereinafter SCO because I'm lazy) requires inputs and produces wastes throughout its structure - meaning that it needs oxygen, water, and "food" from edge to center, and that wastes will be generated all throughout and must be removed. Sophisticated transport mechanisms like a respiratory system to effectively move gases into the organism's interior are multicellular, meaning the SCO has to be able to get oxygen (among other things) to its center purely by diffusion, not active transportation or assisted distribution. There comes a point of volume where it no longer works; you have points of the SCO so far away from the surface where gas exchange takes place that no oxygen (or whatever) makes it that far in - a dead space, essentially. The inverse goes for waste products; any wastes need to be passively discarded, and in an SCO that's too "big," waste products build up in the middle and poison it.

    There are ways around that, of course - an SCO that is thin but wide, spreading the volume out, would overcome the diffusion problem, but it becomes so inefficient that it's wasting energy growing in size which doesn't help it. To get that big, it's exploded its gas and fuel requirements, meaning that now it needs even more fuel despite making itself less mobile - and more attractive to predation. It's also more fragile now, too - lots of bad things against no real advantage. That's a quick way to get kicked out of the 'ol Tree of Life. ;)
    @ShuttleBug

    I guess that it'd be pretty hard for it to properly absorb and get rid of waste (along with probably a large number of other complications), but there are single-celled organisms that reach a size similar to the baby floaters.

    18aff4be9a8c0a24d349a12228b0d0dc.jpg

    They're called Sailor's Eyeballs. They look surprisingly similar to floaters in terms of shape and size. However, they use photosynthesis to obtain their energy, so maybe it'd be much easier for them to get the nutrients they need.

    Maybe floaters have some sort of pink chloroplasts. I don't know. I don't want to explain the science off with "well it's from an alien planet" BS.
  • scifiwriterguyscifiwriterguy Sector ZZ-9-Plural Z-αMembers Join Date: 2017-02-14 Member: 227901Posts: 858 Advanced user
    edited April 2017
    @ShuttleBug
    18aff4be9a8c0a24d349a12228b0d0dc.jpg

    They're called Sailor's Eyeballs. They look surprisingly similar to floaters in terms of shape and size. However, they use photosynthesis to obtain their energy, so maybe it'd be much easier for them to get the nutrients they need.

    Maybe floaters have some sort of pink chloroplasts. I don't know. I don't want to explain the science off with "well it's from an alien planet" BS.

    These are amazing, aren't they? :grin:

    For those who want to continue this train of discussion [danger, lots more words ahead, but this is really interesting!]:

    It's Valonia ventricosa, and Snails is right: it's widely considered one of the largest single-celled organisms known to science, up to 2" in (very) rare cases. It's important as a biology discussion point because it appeared to be pushing the absolute limits of one of the most important boundaries in biology: the surface-area-to-volume ratio. There are plenty of ways to "game" the SAV ratio, the most common being elongation or flattening - it's how nerve cells do it. Valonia ventricosa is kind of an oddball (no pun) because it grows in the least efficient shape as far as the SAV ratio is concerned: a sphere. However, it's the most efficient shape for resisting pressure. And when you're a single cell living 260ft down, well, you have to make some trades. ;)

    Of course, those traits prompted biologists to take a look at V. ventricosa. After all, violating the SAV ratio is a big biological no-no, and it sure looked like it might be doing that. That's when they discovered that V. ventricosa has a truly unique - and beautiful - cellular structure. While in classical structure it could be considered a single cell, it's actually far more complex than that.

    X-ray analysis revealed the first answer. At the center of the ventricosa sphere is a vacuole - a large cellular "bubble" used to distribute materials within a cell. Vacuoles are present in nearly all cells and serve as supply depots of a sort. Basically, they're water bubbles carrying nutrients, wastes, and/or enzymes in solution. This was the first break insofar as ventricosa was concerned; it turned out that they had additional effective surface area due to this multi-lobed vacuole. It served as additional surface, even though it technically isn't. But there was probably more to it.

    The first clue that ventricosa was something a little odd was the presence of multiple nuclei. Okay, that happens rarely but it does happen. It turned out that this was the key to start unlocking its secret. Instead of a single monolithic cell, ventricosa is actually a conglomeration of multiple cell-like substructures called cytoplasmic domains. While they're not technically cells, they're also not technically all part of the same cell; it's one of the edge cases where cell structure theory begins to have some problems. The best way to think of it as an apartment building. If you consider the building as a cell, then the apartments could be considered individual cytoplasmic domains. But ventricosa goes a step further. Each of these domains is self-sufficient, with nucleus, chloroplasts, and all of the other parts necessary for survival.

    The net result is that if you pop a ventricosa bubble (which is not easy to do, mind you), you don't just get a bunch of slime. You release the cytoplasmic domains, which will float away. The nifty bit is that provided it's undamaged, each of those freed domains can regrow an entire V. ventricosa! Yep! And that's in addition to its normal reproductive division method.

    So, net-net, you have a cluster of semi-cell-like structures organized around a hollow center (the vacuole), and all contained inside a common membrane shell and behaving like a single cell in that configuration, but still capable of independent survival and regrowth. It's one of the ultimate oddballs in known biology. :)
    The poor mesmer. Beautiful fish. Too bad it's named after a jerk.
    RalijShuttleBug0x6A7232
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